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Jack Cates is a hard-nosed cop who is paired up with Reggie Hammond -- a convict who is released from prison in Cates's custody for 48 hours in order to help Cates track down a pair of maniacal cop killers.
For more about 48 Hrs. and the 48 Hrs. Blu-ray release, see 48 Hrs. Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on February 16, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.5 out of 5.
Director: Walter Hill (I)
Writers: Roger Spottiswoode, Walter Hill (I), Larry Gross, Steven E. de Souza, Jeb Stuart (I)
Starring: Eddie Murphy, Nick Nolte, Annette O'Toole, Frank McRae, James Remar, David Patrick Kelly
» See full cast & crew
48 Hrs. Blu-ray Review
Is Paramount's catalogue release worth spending time with?
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, February 16, 2011
It's amazing how far a gun and a badge will take some guys.
To call 48 Hrs. a "Buddy Cop" movie is something of a misnomer, seeing as one of the two protagonists is not a cop and the two of them aren't really "buddies" until the third act (though, granted, that term is here defined as "duo" or "partnership" rather than "friendship," even if the latter generally emerges from the former by film's end), but no matter; it's the film often cited as being one of the forefathers of the subgenre that's become something of a staple in the Action movie world, with similar films like the Lethal Weapon dominating for a good decade-plus and flashier fare like Michael Bay's Bad Boys injecting the subset with a bit more verve and spunk and style than was present even in the best such films of the 1980s. 48 Hrs. is, maybe better said, a hallmark of 1980s style, the film bridging the gap between the gritty 1970s police fare and some of the lighter-in-tone Action films that would follow in the mid-1980s and on through the 1990s. No matter its place in history or one's perception of what it is or is not, 48 Hrs. is own its own merits a fun and well-made little diversion, despite some pacing issues and the film's failure to really build up its bad guys much past the point of calling them "bad guys." This is a two-man show for the duration, with everything else just icing on the cake. Fortunately, the pairing of Nick Nolte (The Deep) and Eddie Murphy (Imagine That) carries the film through any and all shortcomings that might otherwise lessen or even ruin a similar film with a lesser cast.
Albert Ganz (James Remar), a convict working the chain gang, is freed by his partner-in-crime, Billy Bear (Sonny Landham). San Francisco cop Jack Cates (Nolte) suddenly finds himself in the middle of the Ganz/Billy Bear case when he becomes involved in a deadly shootout with the criminals during a routine investigation. His gun is stolen but he comes out of the chaos alive. He's chewed out back at the station, and his only lead to tracking down the bad guys appears to be a convict waiting out the last six months of a three-year sentence. The con: Reggie Hammond (Murphy), a man who once worked with Ganz in the criminal underworld. Jack gets Reggie out of prison on a 48 hour leave to help him hunt down Ganz and Billy Bear. Constantly at each other's throats as the two find themselves in constant disagreement over how to catch the bad guys and where, Jack and Reggie seem like they have no chance of working together long enough to make the partnership work. Still, they say opposites attract, and these two radically different men from two opposing sides of the law have all of two days to get their acts together and work as a team to clear the streets of a pair deadly criminals.
48 Hrs., at this point of its lifespan, is more of a nostalgia piece than it is a genre-defining picture. Many films since have outclassed it in terms of story, energy, and action, but that's not to disparage what Director Walter Hill's (Red Heat, another "Buddy Cop" picture) quintessential 1980s Buddy Cop movie has to offer on its own merits. The film's general cops-and-robbers routine is generic, but the pairing of a con man and a cop with both racial and comedic overtones was something a little more out of the ordinary, but itself certainly nothing groundbreaking. The clash of race and/or ethnicity is often a staple of Buddy Cop films, though 48 Hrs. certainly takes things a little further than filmmakers might today dare and audiences might expect; the film plays fast and loose with race and is packed with derogatory racial language and humor. Still, the film works as a whole entity; by the end, race isn't a divisive issue nor a glue that holds the men together. Instead, it's disappeared in favor of teamwork and friendship, and the pairing of Nolte and Murphy winds up being the film's best asset and just maybe, outside of Mel Gibson and Danny Glover, the best the genre has to offer. In terms of its action, 48 Hrs. is a little stale and slow; shootouts dot the landscape, but this is ultimately more a character interaction film than a straight Action movie.
Its cast is its biggest asset, and the film sports a supporting roster that will be instantly-recognizable to 1980s/early 1990s Action fanatics. Sonny Landham plays "Billy Bear;" he'd play another "Billy" in the Arnold Schwarzenegger Action/Sci-Fi classic Predator. David Patrick Kelly, another of the film's slimy bad guys, would play a similar character in another 1980s Arnold classic, Commando. Frank McRae plays the role that made him famous, the always-screaming police captain whom he would "repise" in The Last Action Hero, which is, yup, another Schwarzenegger vehicle, this one a parody of the Action film/Buddy Cop genre. 48 Hrs. also features a wonderful score courtesy of the best in the business, James Horner (Glory). Horner's music is pure 1980s; it's energetic, exciting, and a bit playful in nature, a combination that's perfect for the film and one the composer would closely replicate in Commando. Finally, Director Walter Hill gives 48 Hrs. a somewhat gritty fašade that's counterbalanced by a playful performance from Eddie Murphy. Murphy's never in full-out comedy mode, but he lightens the film's burden a great deal and allows Hill to paint a more dour picture that might not have otherwise worked absent Murphy's contributions to the overall tone.
48 Hrs. Blu-ray, Video Quality
48 Hrs. earns about a point on the 0-100 video scale for every hour in its title. Paramount's decidedly midlevel and fairly disappointing 1080p transfer boasts an increase in clarity and resolution over standard-definition releases, but even for an aging catalogue title the results aren't up to par with the studio's best efforts. The film begins by showcasing some evident wobble over the opening credits, a problem that reappears several times through the movie. Fuzziness and soft shots occasionally make an appearance, but generally the film is moderately sharp and suitably crisp. Detail is never extraordinary, but the bump afforded to the material by the 1080p treatment is evident throughout. Colors are sturdy but not at all vibrant. The transfer exhibits a generally run-down, worn-out look to it; pops, dirt, and random blue vertical lines are present throughout, though generally not in any quantity so as to become a major distraction. Shadow detail is sloppy and blacks are hit-or-miss, generally favoring the latter. A fair bit of grain is retained over the image, spiking at times and practically disappearing at others. It could be worse (take a look at the included trailer), but 48 Hrs. could and should look better than this.
48 Hrs. Blu-ray, Audio Quality
48 Hrs. features a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless soundtrack that fares a little better than the video presentation. Things are generally smooth as James Horner's score floats around the front half of the soundstage, the track handling every beat throughout the entire range with a good deal of precision. Bass could be a little tighter, but given the age of the material and the limitations of the source, it's a minor issue. Gunshots pound out with a fair bit of oomph but lack the precision clarity of superior tracks; bullets do hit hard, though, when impacting various solid surfaces. Ambience is a little disappointing, though; a bustling police station in chapter four features background chatter, ringing telephones, and the like, but the effects are contained to the front half of the soundstage. The back channels are practically eliminated from the scene, and indeed, most of the movie. Dialogue is generally accurate but at a few instances a touch mushy. This is a decent soundtrack that probably approaches the upper end of the best-case scenario for a movie like 48 Hrs.
48 Hrs. Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
This Blu-ray release of 48 Hrs. contains only the film's theatrical trailer (1080p, 3:09).
48 Hrs. Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
48 Hrs. might be a little slow and flawed by today's hyperkinetic standards, but it's a solid character film with Action elements that did usher in a new era of "Buddy Cop" pictures, even if that's something of a misnomer in this case. Director Walter Hill's film is gritty but playful as it branches the genre out of the 1970s and into the 1980s, the film a perfect hybrid of styles that offers the best of both decades. A solid cast and a great score round out a deservedly cherished slice of 1980s cinematic nostalgia. Unfortunately, Paramount's Blu-ray release of 48 Hrs. isn't up to par. The 1080p transfer is midlevel at best, the soundtrack only a bit better, and the disc is almost completely absent any supplemental materials. Fans will want to pick this up at the right price if only for the boost in video and audio over standard definition, but most would be best served with a rental.
48 Hrs.: Other Editions
Blu-ray bundles with 48 Hrs. (1 bundle)
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48 Hrs. Blu-ray, News and Updates
• 48 Hrs. Blu-ray Re-announced - December 20, 2010
Paramount Home Entertainment has announced that, on February 22, 2011, it will release 48 Hrs. on Blu-ray. This 1982 buddy movie starring Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy had been previously announced in 2009, only to be delayed indefinitely. Its sequel, Another 48 ...
48 Hrs. Blu-ray Screenshots
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